As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies advance and potential benefits continue to grow, much remains unknown on the long-term implications AI and ML will have on employment and inclusive economic development in agri-food systems in lower- and middle-income countries. Various studies conducted by global consulting firms predict a 14 to 16 percent increase in gross domestic product growth due to AI, with a significantly higher expected benefit for developed economies. With increased interest and investment in AI, the automation revolution appears to be driven and owned primarily by a small group of multinational companies, governments, and universities. By understanding who is likely to gain and who is likely to be left out, donors and governments can develop more responsible and inclusive programming that considers how these technologies will translate onto agri-food systems of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future priority countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s (BMGF) focus regions.

USAID has documented the potential risks of AI bias and opacity of models in a report, Reflecting the Past, Shaping the Future: Making AI Work for International Development. The effects of an AI-powered global economy on both agri-food systems and those who possess the least ownership in those technologies have not yet been studied. Insights into these effects will enable forward-looking, responsible, and inclusive programming for lower- and middle-income countries.

To help address these challenges, the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security and the BMGF Agricultural Development program are working with the Digital for Resilience and Food Security buy-in to the Digital Frontiers project to provide USAID, BMGF, partners, and local stakeholders with a better understanding of the likely impacts of AI and automation on agri-food systems in the countries where USAID and BMGF work.

Digital Frontiers has released a request for applications (RFA) to conduct this assessment and provide practical recommendations on how to promote more inclusive and open design, ownership, and uptake of these technologies.

Who Should Apply?

DAI is looking for qualified organizations with:

  • Experience in AI and ML relevant to the agriculture sector in developing country contexts.

  • Regional or country experience in USAID Feed the Future priority countries and BMGF focus regions.

  • Prior experience successfully implementing assessments and providing practical guidance and recommendations.

More information on qualifications and how to apply can be found here (RFA) and here (RFA Modification 1: Q&A). Applications are due March 14 to [email protected]. Questions regarding the RFA are due February 17 to [email protected]. If you are interested in receiving updates and further communications regarding this RFA please email [email protected].